In "Harrison Bergeron," why did Kurt Vonnegut decide to kill the title character?

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In “Harrison Bergeron,” the title character is killed by Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General who Harrison attempts to overthrow. There is no fight or even conversation between the characters, only two blasts from Glampers’ shotgun. Vonnegut chose to give Harrison an ignoble death for two reasons.

The first reason is that Harrison’s death is a realistic portrayal of what happens to men and women who defy authoritarian governments. Harrison’s intelligence, strength, and good looks do not save him from a government official with a gun. Considering that Glampers’ shotgun is the only real weapon depicted in the story, one can assume that the right to bear arms no longer exists in Vonnegut’s depiction of future America.

Secondly, Vonnegut chose to kill Harrison because Harrison would have been no better of a ruler than the government Glampers represents. Harrison proclaims himself an emperor. From the ballerinas he chooses his empress. Finally, Harrison promises that the musicians will be his “barons and dukes and earls” if they play their best. The terms Harrison uses allude to the medieval period in European history, when emperors and kings had absolute power. Harrison clearly sees himself at this sort of ruler. If Harrison had lived to rule, he may have done away with handicaps, but his subjects would have lost all of their remaining political freedom.

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